Almost every time I told someone I was bringing my baby with me across the world to Europe, they looked at me like I was nuts.
“What’s the point? He’s not going to remember anything.”
“Your baby is just going to be miserable.”
“Wow, you’re brave/crazy.”
Almost everyone tried to hint at how difficult it’s going to be, or how the trip was not going to be worth it. Well, I’m writing to tell you how awesome it was traveling with Noah, and to fill you in on some of the things we did that kept everything running smoothly!
- Be open-minded; Go into the trip with the expectation that it may not go as exactly as you planned, which isn’t exactly a bad thing.
- Be up for anything; Plan for a flexible schedule. Try not to book anything for a particular time — keep in mind that unplanned things will happen.
Example No. 1: Your baby may be up all night with a confused sleep schedule, you’re exhausted, and that 8am ticket for a Coliseum tour seems less appealing than it originally was. Set up the activity for an open time, or call to schedule something whenever you’re ready for it.
Example no. 2: You may have your heart set on lunch a particular restaurant that you’ve put all the research into, but your baby needs his diaper changed. You then have to stop way earlier than expected, everyone’s starving, and you just settle on a different one. The majority of the time it is all in the air! Options are your friend.
- For an overseas flight, request a bassinet. Wow, this made a world of a difference! Most international flights have free bassinets they can install on the emergency exit aisle. I did have to pay about $150 to select my seats, but then requested the free bassinet. We were sat in the first row in the economy class, you know.. The one with alllll the leg room! 🙂 Noah slept about half of the time in his bassinet, and we were able to stretch our legs. Win-win.
- For an overseas flight, book an overnight. This was perfect because our flight departed at 5pm, and I was able to put him down around 7pm because he was already exhausted. He then slept for about 4.5 of the 9 hour flight, and when he woke it was morning time in Italy. We were able to keep him pretty close to his normal schedule. We flew with Lufthansa and found the flight on Skyscanner — it was such a great deal; check them out first if you’re searching for any flight (domestic or international)!
- Rent a car; this is a must! You do not want to be lugging around a baby, suitcases, strollers and diaper bags through train stations. Please, don’t cheap out and think you can get by using the train as your main source of travel. Just pay the money for the car or SUV, you’re already spending thousands of dollars to get here anyway. Having a car you can keep stuff in, and go about at your own pace makes a world of a difference. I rented from Hertz at the Milan airport and it was about $400 for an Fiat 500L (the larger one, SUV style) for about 10 days. Not too shabby! Also doubled as a private nursing station everywhere we drove to!
- If you don’t want to bring your own car seat, rent one. They rent them out at most car rental companies. I brought my own, only because it easily snaps into my stroller. Its very low maintenance.
- Baby K’tan carrier. I recommend this baby carrier because it is 100% breathable cotton. It’s machine washable, somewhat stylish, very easy to use and doesn’t have all the straps (I usually find this to be an eye-sore). We used both the stroller and carrier interchangeably – when the streets were cobble-stoned, narrow, or we were climbing stairs, we would opt for the baby carrier. If the area we were traveling had smooth sidewalks, or if it were warm outside, we would preferred the stroller.
- Rent an entire home, another must! We were able to have our privacy, stay close to parking, have separate rooms, a kitchen and access to a washer machine. This is very convenient because you can pack less clothes. Less is more — Trust me! Call ahead and see if they have a crib they can set up for you, or if they can help arrange something. Or you can bring a portable one — up to you. Also, renting a home via Airbnb or HomeAway is actually way more affordable than a hotel. Our 2 bedroom on Lake Como was about $80/night, while the nearest hotel was, at the cheapest, $250/night.
- Pack light, but bring all necessities. It sounds obvious, but clothing-wise pack it light! For everything else, make sure you bring what’s going to make him comfortable. Examples: his sound machine, video monitors, favorite blanket, etc. Comfortable baby = happy baby.
- When taking off and landing, nurse or give a bottle to your baby. The elevation change can hurt his ears and this will provide relief. Sometimes this can be tricky to time it right because he could be hungry before or after that time you need to feed him. Do your best to distract and play with him until just about a minute or so before the take off/landing process.Bonus:
Baby Benadryl for the plane. We did talk to our pediatrician, read a lot of tips about it, and tried it out beforehand. Aside from the obvious- it was easier on us and he didn’t disturb the passengers around him. Helping him be able to sleep on the plane kept him close to his sleeping schedule, and be relaxed in a setting he was unfamiliar with. We looked up the dosage amount on the Pediatric Associations website, and actually gave him about half of the dose than it even recommended for his age/weight. It worked, he was able to sleep about half of the time (we didn’t give him another dose, although we could have). We even saw the couple next to us giving their baby some. It’s not uncommon. Don’t feel guilt. Disclaimer: I do not recommend giving it to them at any other time than once on the plane, and make sure not to give a second dose (if you do) before 4-6 hours have passed.
Just remember, your baby is your new travel companion! Enjoy them! Don’t look at your baby as a hindrance, look at them as providing spontaneity and extra character to the trip. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all rainbows and sunshine, but the good times far outweigh the tough ones. For us, the tough times were so few and far between we hardly remember them. It’s all how you make it!
Below’s a slideshow of some photos from our Italy trip with Noah!